Be True to Yourself

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I’ve recently broken up with my job, as we weren’t made for each other. I have been ignoring the warning signals way too long. After analysing what went wrong I understood that it’s like with a romantic relationship – if both people are like day and night, it won’t work. Sometimes we adjust to everything and everyone around us without being aware of it. But as with everything, there are limits.

If you are an average employed person you spend some 140 hours a week at work. Add lunch time in the office kitchen and the way from and to your workplace and you get 180 hours a week spent on everything around your job. Probably more than you dedicate to your partner or kids and doing things you love. As this time sacrifice is difficult to avoid, make at least sure your job fits your personality.

It was a hard, but long overdue decision to officially quit my job. It was hard because I felt there was a conflict between what society thinks appropriate and what my gut feeling was telling me. Society thinks it’s not ok to quit a job without having found another. My gut feeling said: Get out!

To understand that I was on a completely wrong track I had to start listening to myself instead to others. The symptoms shouting at you that there’s something wrong with your job are easy to recognise, but difficult to admit. I started feeling upset on Sunday evenings. I lost appetite at work and often ate just for the sake of getting energy. I went out of the office to buy a coffee although the company offered free coffee – I needed a quick escape and to be alone. The answer to why I felt like this was more than obvious. The everyday reality of my job was in conflict with the way I was. Here an example:

Reality: I was all the time on the phone cold-calling new prospects.

My true self: Even in my private life I don’t like phone calls and keep conversations short. I’m not very pushy or persuasive, as I respect the opinion and decision of the other person. I’m very emphatic and avoid conflicts. So what exactly made you take a sales job, Jana? Ah… huh… the challenge! But well, it didn’t work. That’s nothing against sales, on the contrary – I know very well how useful sales skills are. Sales and me is just like day and night.

I wasn’t developing myself, I wasn’t learning much and I didn’t like what I was doing. 100% probability I would leave the job.

Susan Cain, writer and main person behind the “quiet revolution” confesses in her book Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking: “It took me almost a decade to understand that the law was never my personal project, not even close. I can tell you unhesitatingly what is: my husband and sons; writing; promoting the values of this book. Once I realised this, I had to make a change. I look back at my years as a Wall Street lawyer as time spent in a foreign country. It was absorbing, it was exciting, and I got to meet a lot of interesting people whom I never would have known otherwise. But I was always an expatriate.”

To understand that you’re in the wrong job you need to listen to yourself. Not to the unstable job market, your old-fashioned dad or smart-ass colleague. Not to your daily horoscope and not to the universe. Just to yourself.

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